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International Relations Sustainable Development
by
R. Samuel Deese

Introduction

Although sustainable development emerged as a distinct discipline only in the last quarter of the 20th century, it addresses a very old question: How do human societies advance their economic aspirations without exhausting their natural resources and despoiling the web of life on which they depend? This question has become a matter of great concern in the industrial age, but it has been a recurring problem for human communities at least since the advent of agriculture, and quite likely since the first deliberate use of fire for hunting and clearing forests in the Pleistocene. Given the relative youth of the discipline in connection with the long-standing problems it addresses, this bibliography supplements the most prominent institutional publications on sustainable development with sources that highlight the historical context of the field and explore its legal, cultural, and religious dimensions. This bibliography then outlines the literature pertaining to sustainable development on a regional and global basis, before concluding with a survey of journals and websites relevant to the field.

Institutional Publications

Although the institutional literature on sustainable development is vast, the selection of documents below provides a solid introduction to the field. The Stockholm Declaration, Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, marks the first attempt by the United Nations to integrate its broad goals for economic development with an awareness of ecological limits; the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future: World Commission on Environment and Development, signals the emergence of sustainable development as distinct discipline. The 1992 Rio Conference led to the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and to a general outline of sustainable development policies for the 21st century, known as Agenda 21. As scientific consensus grew about the probable dangers posed by anthropogenic climate change following the Rio Conference, the Kyoto Protocols (1997), and the Copenhagen Accord (2009) refined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, although none of these changes produced binding international regulations to control the emission of greenhouse gases. In the first decade of this century, the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in South Africa produced the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development, placing a somewhat greater emphasis than its predecessors on issues such as racism and religious strife. Although the UN has produced the greatest quantity of literature on sustainable development, other international institutions have joined the field: the World Bank has addressed the impact of climate change on sustainable development in World Bank Development Report 2010, while the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has joined with the Food and Agriculture Organization and produced OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2010 to assess the outlook for global agriculture in light of current economic and ecological trends. Finally, in contrast to the contentious and hitherto ineffective efforts of the international community to address the problem of climate change, the history of the Montreal Protocols to counteract ozone depletions (Anders and Sarma 2005) presents a relatively encouraging success story and a possible model for future policy makers.

  • Andersen, Stephen O., and K. Madhava Sarma. Protecting the Ozone Layer: The United Nations History. London: Earthscan for United Nations Environment Program, 2005.

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    Describes international success in addressing ozone depletion. Analyzes negotiations for 1985 Vienna Convention, 1987 Montreal Protocol, and subsequent implementation. Explores role of governments, businesses, civil society, and especially technology transfer. Book has earned praise from diplomats involved in Montreal protocols and may provide models for future action on climate change.

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  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2010. Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2010.

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    Annual joint study issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Surveys trends and makes tentative forecasts for the coming decade regarding prices, supplies, biofuels, and food security. Valuable as a reference book and primary source on FAO and OECD policy.

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  • United Nations. Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. 1972.

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    Produced by a 1972 UN Conference in Sweden, the “Stockholm Declaration” is the first major UN declaration concerning the global environment. Although it does not contain the term “sustainable development,” this document frames environmental concerns and economic aspirations as complementary rather than mutually exclusive. Valuable as a primary source.

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  • United Nations. Our Common Future: World Commission on Environment and Development. New York: United Nations, 1987.

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    Most discussions of sustainable development begin here. Chaired by Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, the World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Valuable as a primary source.

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  • United Nations. Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development. A/CONF.199/20. 2002.

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    From the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in South Africa in 2002. Reaffirms UN commitment to sustainability while placing emphasis on social issues such as racism and xenophobia. Because of ideological differences, the United States did not send a full delegation or participate in drafting this declaration. Valuable as a primary source.

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  • United Nations Division for Sustainable Development. Agenda 21: Earth Summit—The United Nations Program of Action from Rio. New York: United Nations, 1993.

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    Produced by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development at Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Although legally nonbinding, the 21st-century goals outlined by this document concerning biodiversity, climate change, and sustainable development have continued to inform UN policy for nearly two decades. Valuable as a primary source.

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  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

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    A product of the 1992 Rio Conference, the UNFCCC outlines goals for mitigating climate change. Although it sets no mandatory limits on the emission of greenhouse gases and contains no binding enforcement mechanisms, the 1992 UNFCCC set the stage for the 1997 Kyoto Protocols and the 2009 Copenhagen Accord. Valuable as a primary source. The text of the original 1992 UNFCC is available online, as are the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2009 Copenhagen Accord.

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  • World Bank. World Bank Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2009.

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    Emphasizes the impact of accelerating climate change on developing economies; assesses strategies for adaptation and mitigation. Accessibly written and well produced, featuring lucid charts, maps, and photographs. Useful as both an upper-division textbook and as a primary source on World Bank policy.

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Journals and Reference Resources

The website of the Earth Institute at Columbia University provides the broadest survey of all aspects of sustainable development policy and research, while Yale Environment 360 presents a look at the most current developments and controversies in environmental science and policy. The Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development from the University of Buckingham is highly informative and freely available online, while the website of the International Institute for Sustainable Development furnishes current research from one of the earliest pioneers in the field. Worldviews explores the cultural and religious dimensions of environmental policy while Sustainable Development surveys the broad contours of the discipline. Finally, while most environmental activist groups maintain websites that are easy to find online, the site of the Worldwatch Institute may well be the most thorough and informative.

Historical Context

The sources listed here provide a sense of historical context that is often missing from the policy literature on sustainable development. The primary sources listed here predate the advent of sustainable development, but each marks the evolution of concepts that would be essential to the discipline, such as the biological limits facing human societies, the capacity of the human species to despoil its environment irrevocably, and the advantages of reducing waste and overconsumption. The secondary sources feature studies of environmental history and earth science, as well as studies tracing the history of environmental thought in the industrial age. These secondary sources all address environmental history on a multiregional or global scale. Works of history specific to one region or country are listed in the section on regional studies.

Primary Sources

Although sustainable development has been a named discipline for only a few decades, the attempt to frame human economic aspirations within their ecological limitations has notable precedents in Malthus 2008 (originally published 1798), Thoreau 2004 (originally published 1854), and Marsh 2003 (originally published 1864). The conception of the biosphere as an integrated system responsive to human activity was pioneered by Vernadsky 1998, while the ethical implications of this interconnectedness for modern industrial society were eloquently explored by Leopold 1949 and Carson 2002. As awareness of ecological issues grew in the early 1970s, Ward and Dubos 1972 attempted to outline a global model for sustainable development, while Schumacher 2010 (originally published 1973) reasoned that the strengthening of local economic networks could reduce the waste of natural resources.

  • Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. Rev. ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2002.

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    Originally published in 1962, Carson’s warning about the overuse of DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons is usually cited as the starting point for the environmentalist movement. Chapter 17 is particularly relevant to sustainable development, as it outlines sustainable pest control strategies that have gained currency in the subsequent decades.

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  • Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac; and Sketches from Here and There. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1949.

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    A protégé of United States Forest Service founder Gifford Pinchot, Leopold here abandons his old teacher’s utilitarian view of nature and introduces the Land Ethic: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” Current edition available from Oxford University Press (2001).

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  • Malthus, Thomas R. An Essay on the Principle of Population. Introduction by Geoffrey Gilbert. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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    Probably the first essay in Western history to delineate clear biological limits to human economic and demographic growth. Although Malthus did not advocate birth control, his essay was seminal for advocates of family planning such as Margaret Sanger, and later for environmentalists such as Julian Huxley and Paul Ehrlich. Originally published in 1798 as “An Essay on the Principle of Population: A View of Its Past and Present Effects on Human Happiness; with an Inquiry into Our Prospects Respecting the Future Removal or Mitigation of the Evils Which It Occasions.”

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  • Marsh, George Perkins. Man and Nature; or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003. Introduction by David Lowenthal.

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    This volume was among the first in history to argue that human activity had significantly altered the earth. Marsh’s groundbreaking work of environmental history and advocacy concludes with the warning that there is not “another Eden” available to the human race if it thoroughly despoils the Earth. Originally published 1864 (New York: Charles Scribner).

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  • Schumacher, E. F. Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered. New York, Harper, 2010.

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    This best-selling collection of essays was embraced by the environmentalist and appropriate technology movements in the 1970s. Though a protégé of John Maynard Keynes during World War II, Schumacher here emphasizes what he calls “Buddhist economics,” with an emphasis on limiting consumption and employing local resources for local use. Originally published 1973 (New York: Harper and Row).

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  • Thoreau, Henry David. Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition. Edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.

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    Although a personal account of Thoreau’s sojourn at Walden Pond, the text is imbued with the author’s mordant skepticism about the twin gospels of economic growth and technological progress. The first and longest chapter, “Economy,” both anticipated and influenced 20th-century critics of consumerism. Originally published 1854.

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  • Vernadsky, Vladimir I. The Biosphere. Translated by David B. Langmuir; revised by Mark A. S. McMenamin. New York: Springer, 1998.

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    Published in Russian in 1926, this was the first work to define the biosphere as an integrated system. Vernadsky’s analysis anticipated the Gaia hypothesis by several decades and, in the post-Soviet era, he has come to be recognized as a foundational figure. Seminal primary source on Russian environmentalism. Recommended for graduate students.

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  • Ward, Barbara, and Rene Dubos. Only One Earth; the Care and Maintenance of a Small Planet: An Unofficial Report Commissioned by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. New York: Penguin, 1972.

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    This accessible companion to the 1972 Stockholm Declaration combines the insights of two pioneers in the field. Microbiologist Rene Dubos is credited with coining that mantra of sustainability, “Think globally. Act locally.” Economist and Columbia professor Barbara Ward was among the first to integrate ecology with global economics.

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Secondary Sources

Historical works relevant to the field of sustainable development may be broadly divided into cultural histories of environmentalism and physical histories of the environment itself. Among histories of environmentalism, Worster 1994 is the most useful guide to history of ecological thought since the 18th century, although his focus is primarily Anglo-American. Cronon 1996 critiques the romantic conception of wilderness from Thoreau to the late 20th century, while Radkau 2008 provides a broader survey of environmental thought across cultures, integrated with a global history of environmental change. Among histories of the environment, Diamond 2005 analyzes a selection of ancient and modern human societies within their respective environments, while Ruddiman 2005 and Simmons 2008 attempt to survey the broad sweep of human history and its impact on the earth’s ecological and climatic systems. For students of modern history, Crosby 2004 provides a seminal analysis of the environmental dimensions of European imperialism, while McNeill 2000 surveys the history of unprecedented environmental change in the 20th century.

  • Cronon, William, ed. Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1996.

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    Brings together a diverse array of major scholars to consider the changing meaning of nature at the turn of the past century. Contains Cronon’s iconoclastic critique of post–World War II U.S. environmentalism, “The Trouble with Wilderness.” Recommended for upper-division and graduate students.

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  • Crosby, Alfred. Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900–1900. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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    First published in 1986, this book explores the way in which biological agents, from microbes and viruses to plants and animals, aided the expansion of European power from the late medieval era to the apogee of European imperialism at the dawn of the 20th century. Seminal work and accessible introduction to field.

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  • Diamond, Jared. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking, 2005.

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    Writing in a style accessible to all readers, UCLA geographer Jared Diamond surveys human societies from ancient Mesoamerica to modern China, Rwanda, and the United States to explore the fateful choices human societies make in relation to their environments. A vivid and engaging textbook for undergraduate survey courses.

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  • McNeill, J. R. Something New under the Sun. New York: W. W. Norton, 2000.

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    Magisterial survey of environmental change in the 20th century. Anticipating current discussions of the “Anthropocene,” McNeill posits that the level of environmental change in the 20th century constitutes a profoundly new phenomenon in the history of the planet. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate courses.

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  • Radkau, Joachim. Nature and Power: A Global History of the Environment. Translated by Thomas Dunlap. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

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    German historian Joachim Radkau presents a magisterial survey of environmental history, never hesitating to express his own meditations in discursive and often amusing asides. Gracefully combines the vast themes of environmental history with a perceptive account of conservation movements in the modern era. Excellent for upper-division or graduate courses.

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  • Ruddiman, W. F. Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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    This broad survey of human activity, extending over more than ten millennia, argues that a whole host of human activities, including agriculture and deforestation, began to alter the climate well before the industrial age. Compellingly presented and has generated contentious debate. Excellent book for upper-division and graduate seminars.

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  • Simmons, I. G. Global Environmental History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

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    Concise and poetic outline of human interactions with the environment from the beginning of the species to the industrial age. An ambitious book that attempts in each chapter to supplement environmental history with evocative metaphors from art, music, and literature. Challenging but rewarding. Valuable for graduate seminars, especially in humanities.

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  • Worster, Donald. Nature’s Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

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    An indispensible work that provides a careful exposition of Western thought about nature from the mid-18th century to the present. Principally Anglo-American in focus, this study traces the history of ecological thought against the background of industrialization. First-rate source for upper-division and graduate courses.

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Legal Dimensions

The first laws and international accords pertaining to sustainable development were not inspired by a desire to protect the environment for its own sake, but rather by a need to protect resources such as fish stocks, riparian rights, and timber reserves for economic and strategic purposes. In spite of its strictly practical origins, however, the gradual evolution of environmental law offers a series of case studies and precedents that can be very relevant to present and future concerns. Listed here are texts that analyze the evolution of environmental law around the world, with a special emphasis on precedents set by the United States and the European Union. Sands and Galizzi 2004 is an indispensible collection of documents in the field. Houck 2010 narrates and analyzes a handful of seminal cases from around the world, while Okereke 2007 explores the neoliberal assumptions that still underpin most transnational debates about environmental law and policy. Kubasek 2008 is a solid textbook on environmental law in the United States, while Kuokkanen 2002 offers a theoretical analysis of how the foundations of environmental law have changed over time and across cultures. Finally, Sands 2003 furnishes a highly detailed and rigorous analysis of the principles of international environmental laws, tracing their evolution from the 19th century to the present.

  • Houck, Oliver A. Taking Back Eden: Eight Environmental Cases That Changed the World. Washington, DC: Island, 2010.

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    Presents eight distinct narratives of pivotal environmental cases in Canada, the United States, Chile, Japan, the Philippines, Greece, Russia, and India. Enlightening portraits of citizens behind environmental litigation. Houck’s style is conversational and engaging but never oversimplifies the legal issues at stake. Excellent book for undergraduate or graduate courses.

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  • Kubasek, Nancy K. Environmental Law. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2008.

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    A concise yet detailed introduction to US environmental law. Outlines relevant principles of the US legal system and traces the evolution of environmental legislation and litigation before surveying current law. Accessibly written for students who are not specialists in law or environmental science. Recommended for undergraduate courses.

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  • Kuokkanen, Tuomas. International Law and the Environment: Variations on a Theme. The Hague and New York: Kluwer Law International, 2002.

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    This theoretical work divides environmental law into three periods: a premodern period that viewed conservation as a strictly subordinate aspect of use, a modern period that framed conservation as diametrically opposed to use, and a postmodern period in which use and conservation must now be reconciled. Recommended for graduate seminars.

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  • Okereke, Chukwumerije. Global Justice and Neoliberal Environmental Governance: Ethics, Sustainable Development and International Co-operation. London: Routledge, 2007.

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    Analyzes the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Okereke argues that the neoliberal values implicit in these accords work against sustainable development. Recommended for graduate students.

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  • Sands, Philippe. Principles of International Environmental Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

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    Superb introduction to the field of environmental law, from its antecedents in the international arbitration over fishing and riparian rights in the mid-19th century to negotiations over greenhouse gas emissions in the contemporary period. Very highly recommended for undergraduate and graduate courses.

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  • Sands, Philippe, and Paolo Galizzi. Documents in International Environmental Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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    A useful collection of primary sources on the evolution of environmental law across borders. Includes the 1963 Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty, 1972 Stockholm Declaration, 1987 Montreal Protocol, 1992 Rio Pact, and a host of other documents, complemented with explanations of their historical context and subsequent impact and emendation.

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Cultural Dimensions

As sustainable development inevitably concerns itself with the consequences of human behavior, it must also address some of the primary factors that influence our behavior, such as culture. Kirk 2007 explores the countercultural dimensions of American environmentalism in the 1960s and 1970s, while Poole 2008 surveys the global reaction to the first photographs of Earth from space. Parr 2009 investigates the broader acceptance of sustainability discourse in the past two decades and argues that its values have often been distorted and diluted by the culture of consumerism. Addressing the cultural dimensions of sustainable development in practical terms Cox 2009 analyzes the best methods for promoting environmental reforms in the public sphere, while Assadourian, et al. 2010 is an eclectic selection of essays on the relationship between sustainable development and contemporary culture in a global context.

  • Assadourian, Erik, Linda Starke, Lisa Mastry, and Worldwatch Institute, eds. State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010.

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    Dozens of essays from sustainability advocates such as ecologist Paul Ehrlich, architect William McDonough, and journalist Raj Chengappa, outlining changes to business, popular culture, public education, and other fields to transform our “culture of consumption” into a “culture of sustainability.” Forward by Muhammad Yunus. Valuable as survey and primary source.

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  • Cox, J. Robert. Environmental Communication in the Public Sphere. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2009.

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    Surveys the challenges of disseminating information about environmental problems and advocating policies and solutions in the public sphere. A former president of the Sierra Club, Cox combines his personal experience as an advocate with an informed discussion of environmental communication in the age of electronic media. Recommended for undergraduate courses.

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  • Kirk, Andrew. Counterculture Green: The Whole Earth Catalog and American Environmentalism. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2007.

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    A vivid exploration of the connections between the counterculture and the rise of the appropriate technology movement after 1968. While the central focus is on Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, the narrative surveys the careers of dozens of activists, designers, and entrepreneurs. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate courses.

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  • Parr, Adrian. Hijacking Sustainability. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.

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    Surveys and critiques the growing attention to sustainability in popular culture, advertising, and political discourse. Although some terms employed here are specific to critical theory (e.g., “the popular imaginary”), the arguments are engaging and accessible to a general reader. Recommended for upper-division or graduate seminars, especially in the humanities.

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  • Poole, Robert. Earthrise: How Man First Saw the Earth. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

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    A fascinating cultural history of the reactions to the first photographic images of Earth from space. Provides a compelling look at the Cold War context for those images and explores how our conception of the Earth as a single system has evolved over time. Excellent for undergraduate courses.

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Religious Dimensions

Dunlap 2004 analyzes the religious dimensions of the environmental movement, while Nelson 2010 argues that debates between environmentalists and economists are intensified by the presence of religious values and assumptions on both sides. While both of these works emphasize the Judeo-Christian elements in European and North American environmentalism, a very fine series of books from Harvard explores the ecological dimensions of religious traditions around the world. Chapple and Tucker 2000 surveys the ecological aspects of Hinduism, while Foltz, et al. 2003 explores the connection between Islam and the environment. Tucker and Berthrong 1998 probes the environmental implications of Confucianism, while Grim 2001 catalogues the ecological insights of indigenous traditions around the world. Kaza and Kraft 2000 provides a look at the influence of Buddhist thought on environmental policy and activism. Wilson 2006 argues that secularists and believers alike should be united in a common reverence for life on Earth.

  • Chapple, Christophe Key, and Mary Evelyn Tucker, eds. Hinduism and Ecology: The Intersection of Earth, Sky, and Water. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions, 2000.

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    This volume explores Hindu rituals, epics, the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the teachings of 20th-century figures such as Gandhi to assess Hindu traditions on human ecology and sustainability. Features dozens of essays by scholars of anthropology, religious studies, and environmental ethics. Excellent for upper-division or graduate courses.

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  • Dunlap, Thomas. Faith in Nature: Environmentalism as Religious Quest. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004.

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    Offers a very perceptive exploration of the religious roots of the environmental movement, from its antecedents in the 18th century to the present. Although primarily Western in focus, it addresses questions relevant to environmentalism in a global context. Recommended for upper-division or graduate seminars.

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  • Foltz, Richard. Frederick Mathewson Denny, and Azizan Haji Baharuddin, eds. Islam and Ecology: A Bestowed Trust. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions, 2003.

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    Explores the connection between the sense of cosmic and social order in the Qu’ran and contemporary problems such as water scarcity and pollution and assesses common ground between Islamic injunctions to help the poor and the environmental justice movement. Features essays by Sufi philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr and scholar of Islam and science Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz.

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  • Grim, John. Indigenous Traditions and Ecology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions, 2001.

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    Combines essays by both indigenous and non-native scholars on such issues as local sovereignty, globalization, and the conservation of imperiled ecosystems that support the livelihoods of indigenous peoples. Explores the relevance of indigenous traditions such as shamanism and animism to sustainable development. Excellent for upper-division and graduate courses.

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  • Kaza, Stephanie, and Kenneth Kraft. Dharma Rain: Sources of Buddhist Environmentalism. Boston: Shambhala, 2000.

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    Essays considering the ecological implications of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist practice in Asia and throughout the world. Includes a broad selection of sutras and teachings from past masters, as well as essays by Gary Snyder, Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, and Sulak Sivaraksa. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students.

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  • Nelson, Robert H. The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion vs. Environmental Religion in Contemporary America. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010.

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    Published in cooperation with the Independent Institute (Oakland, CA). Argues that both environmentalism and laissez-faire economics are predicated on assumptions and values that are essentially religious in nature, even if their respective proponents do not acknowledge this. Presents incisive commentary about both sides of the debate, though the book considers only the influence of Judeo-Christian traditions in each case.

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  • Tucker, Mary, and John Berthrong. Confucianism and Ecology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions, 1998.

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    Confucianism holds sway across East Asia and has recently enjoyed a state-sponsored revival in China. These essays analyze Confucian thought on three overarching concepts: nature, social ethics, and cosmology. Features an essay by Confucianist scholar Tu Weiming on the distinction between Confucianism and the legacy of Western Enlightenment thought.

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  • Wilson, Edward O. The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth. New York: W. W. Norton, 2006.

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    Evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson here argues that believers and secularists alike should embrace environmental stewardship out of reverence for nature. Although Wilson indentifies himself as a “secular humanist” who abandoned the beliefs of his Baptist upbringing long ago, he here employs the language of the Bible to advance sustainability.

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Regional Studies

Because vast disparities in wealth exist in the age of globalization, the concept of sustainable development can have radically different meanings in different places. Studies of sustainable development in affluent societies place a heavier emphasis on increasing efficiency and curtailing reckless consumption. In poorer countries, the goal of economic growth commands a greater share of attention, with sustainability promoted as a corollary. In those nations that comprised the Soviet bloc during the Cold War, debates on sustainability remain inextricably linked with the problem of how best to overcome the economic and political legacies of Marxist-Leninist rule. Below are sources on the environment and sustainability that highlight the multivalent connotations of sustainable development in different regions of the globe.

Africa

As the global competition to extract fossil fuels from Africa intensifies, the African Union and African Development Bank 2009 provides a useful catalogue of energy resources on the continent, while Shaxson 2007 analyzes the environmental, social, and political consequences of the oil business in Africa. Hamann, et al. 2008 analyzes models for more sustainable and ethical business practices in Africa, while Maathai 2009 stresses the need for Africans to honor both indigenous species and indigenous cultures as they strive for economic development. Assessing problems with aid programs in Africa, Paarlberg 2008 argues that Western environmental groups have set back sustainable development by keeping genetically modified crops out of Africa, while Moyo 2010 boldly asserts that the current aid model for Africa is woefully counterproductive and should be replaced with an emphasis on private investment. As Chinese investment pours into Africa, complementing resource extraction with the construction of infrastructure projects, Rotberg 2008 provides a balanced collection of studies concerning this trend.

  • African Union and African Development Bank. Oil and Gas in Africa: Joint Study by the African Development Bank and the African Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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    A regional survey of the growing oil and natural gas industries in Africa, complemented by an analysis of the social and environmental sustainability of current practices of resource extraction, distribution, and use throughout the continent. Valuable as a reference and primary source. Recommended for graduate students.

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  • Amanor, Kojo Sebastian, and Sam Moyo, eds. Land and Sustainable Development in Africa. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

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    A collaboration that began at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa, this collection of essays features current debates on land reform and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa. Features recent and detailed case studies on Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Recommended for graduate students.

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  • Hamann, Ralph, Stu Woolman, and Courtenay Sprague, eds. The Business of Sustainable Development in Africa: Human Rights, Partnerships, Alternative Business Models. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 2008.

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    A collection of detailed case studies and debates on corporate citizenship, human rights, and sustainable development in Africa. Explores potential of private enterprise, from small businesses to multinational corporations. Analyzes corporate responsibility in relation to guidelines established by the UN Global Compact in 2000. Recommended for graduate students.

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  • Maathai, Wangari. The Challenge for Africa. New York: Pantheon, 2009.

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    The founder of the Green Belt movement presents her agenda for sustainable development, opposing monocultural tree farms and advocating the preservation and restoration of indigenous forests. She also argues that Africa’s indigenous cultures or “micro-nations” should have a greater voice in development policy. Recommended for undergraduate or graduate students.

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  • Moyo, Dambisa. Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010.

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    An iconoclastic look at aid to Africa. A native of Zambia with a doctorate in economics from Oxford, Moyo argues that foreign aid to Africa has created dependency and fostered corruption and should be replaced by programs that emphasize private lending. Recommended for undergraduate or graduate seminars.

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  • Paarlberg, Robert. Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

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    Argues that agriculture in Africa is severely impeded by restrictions on technologies, especially genetically modified seed stocks. Paarlberg traces these restrictions especially to the policies of the European Union and to some environmental groups opposing genetically modified foods. Foreword by Jimmy Carter and Norman Borlaug. Recommended for graduate seminars.

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  • Rotberg, Robert I. China into Africa: Trade, Aid, and Influence. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2008.

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    A set of detailed studies on the large and rapidly growing presence of China in Africa, with a particular emphasis on such extractive industries as mining, drilling, and timber. Features contributions by Western, Chinese, and African scholars. Highly recommended for upper-division and graduate students.

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  • Shaxson, Nicholas. Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

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    A Financial Times reporter surveys the politics and economics of oil extraction throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Argues that global dependency on oil will likely contribute to the cycle of corruption and violence in African nations. Seeks to highlight development problems not exclusive to oil drilling. Recommended for upper-division and graduate students.

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East Asia, Australia, and Oceania

Analyzing the largest nation in the region, Smil 2003 presents an engaging analysis of changing resource use in China across four decades, while Economy 2004 reckons the steep environmental costs of China’s rapid industrial growth. Assessing the impact of climate change in the region, Harris 2003 analyzes the economic and political dimensions of global warming in Japan, China, and Southeast Asia, while Campbell and Barnett 2010 explores how it has already affected the small island nations of the Pacific. Lindemeyer 2007 catalogues a broad range of challenges to sustainable development in Australia, from climate change to soil salinity and suburban sprawl.

  • Campbell, John, and Jon Barnett. Climate Change and Small Island States: Power, Knowledge, and the South Pacific. London: Earthscan, 2010.

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    While island nations such as Tuvalu have long been icons of climate change, the social challenges and mitigation strategies specific to these societies have received far less attention. Addressing these lacunae, Campbell and Barnett analyze the unique impact of climate change on the small island nations of the South Pacific.

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  • Economy, Elizabeth C. The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China’s Future. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004.

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    A scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations paints a grim picture of the environmental downside of the current economic boom in China. Warns of multiple crises and possible social collapse, but points to hopeful signs in the growth of a legal framework for environmental protection within China. Excellent for undergraduate and graduate courses.

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  • Harris, Paul G. Global Warming and East Asia. London: Routledge, 2003.

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    Timely essays on the challenge of framing a workable global warming policy in East Asia, with an overwhelming emphasis on the large economies of China and Japan. Explores the implications of explosive economic growth in the region, coupled with large populations. Also contains essays on the Philippines and Southeast Asia.

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  • Lindenmayer, David. On Borrowed Time: Australia’s Environmental Crisis and What We Must Do about It. Camberwell, Australia: Penguin Australia, 2007.

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    An Australian ecologist, Lindenmayer surveys the challenges to sustainability in his homeland, including desertification, soil salinity, overgrazing, overfishing, habitat loss, and climate change. With a special emphasis on the rural north, Lindemeyer calls for an integration of economic growth with sustainable practices. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students.

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  • Smil, Vaclav. China’s Past, China’s Future. London: Routledge, 2003.

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    A provocative commentator on energy and resource issues, Smil here traces the history of resource use in China from the chaos of the Cultural Revolution through the current period of rapid economic growth. Special focus on energy use, and on food supply for a population of more than 1.3 billion.

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Europe

McCormick 2001 analyzes the environmental policy framework of the European Union, while Burchell 2002 provides a useful history of how Green parties have succeeded or failed within individual European states, and Jordan 2005 explores efforts to integrate national environmental policies in western European states with the broader framework laid out by the European Union. Barry, et al. 2004 explores European sustainability policies as they confront the challenges of accelerated globalization.

  • Barry, John, Brian Baxter, and Richard Dunphy, eds. Europe, Globalization and Sustainable Development. London: Routledge, 2004.

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    These essays by scholars of European politics, economics, and culture analyze how European states can set and achieve sustainability goals, both domestically and within the framework of the European Union. Authors address issues of sovereignty, citizenship, and identity as they pertain to sustainable development.

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  • Burchell, Jon. The Evolution of Green Politics: Development and Change within European Green Parties. London: Earthscan, 2002.

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    Traces the evolution of Green parties in European politics from the 1980s to the present. Assesses problems with factionalism and analyzes the reasons for the limited success of these parties after their dramatic emergence in the last decade of the Cold War. Recommended for upper-division and graduate students.

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  • Jordan, Andrew. Environmental Policy in Europe: The Europeanization of National Environmental Policy. London: Routledge, 2005.

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    A collection of engaging essays exploring the integration of environmental policy within individual European states with the broader policies of the European Union. The primary emphasis here is on those western European nations that formed the core of the European Union before 1989. Recommended for upper-division and graduate students.

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  • McCormick, John. Environmental policy in the European Union. New York: Palgrave, 2001.

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    An expert on the global environmental movement, McCormick presents an engaging introduction to the role of the European Union in establishing environmental policy for member nations. The emphasis here is on the framework of the EU itself, rather than the policy trends within member states. Recommended for graduate students.

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India and South Asia

Gadgil and Guha 1993 is a handy introduction to the environmental history of India since the 18th century. In terms of Indian environmentalism, Guha 2000 is also an excellent contribution to our understanding of the late-20th-century Chipko movement within the context of postcolonial Indian society, while Springate-Baginski and Blaikie 2007 surveys the contemporary situation of forest-dwelling populations across South Asia. Shiva 2000 is a passionate critique of Norman Borlaug’s Green Revolution and serves as a valuable primary source on the organic farming movement in India. Gosling 2001 explores the role of religious traditions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism, in the environmental politics of South Asia.

  • Gadgil, Madhav, and Ramachandra Guha. This Fissured Land: An Ecological History of India. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

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    A fine collaboration between Gadgil, who is one of India’s most influential ecologists, and Guha, who is among the most engaging historians of modern India. Explores the ecological and social impact of British rule and surveys the dramatically varied ways of life across the subcontinent. Recommended for upper-division and graduate students.

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  • Gosling, David. Religion and Ecology in India and Southeast Asia. London: Routledge, 2001.

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    Surveys the ecological significance of Indian and Southeast Asian religious cultures, with a special emphasis on Hinduism and Buddhism. A scholar of both physics and Asian religions, Gosling integrates environmental and religious issues with clarity and grace. Recommended for upper-division and graduate students.

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  • Guha, Ramachandra. The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya. Expanded ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

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    Excellent scholarship on the Chipko or “treehugger” movement in northern India. While this nonviolent movement of local women to protect forests from logging has been hailed as a feminist and environmentalist phenomenon since the 1970s, Guha places it in the older tradition of peasant resistance movements. Recommended for graduate students.

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  • Shiva, Vandana. Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply. Cambridge, MA: South End, 2000.

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    Ecofeminist and organic food advocate Vandana Shiva argues here that genetically modified seed stocks pose ecological and public health threats. She further criticizes the system of intellectual property that benefits multinational firms such as Monsanto. Provocative source for debates on monoculture and genetic engineering. Recommended for undergraduate or graduate seminars.

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  • Springate-Baginski, Oliver, and Piers Blaikie, eds. Forests, People and Power: The Political Ecology of Reform in South Asia. London: Earthscan, 2007.

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    These essays survey the conflict between timber interests and local people who derive their resources from the forests across South Asia. Authors also assess the viability of more sustainable forest management strategies and provide case studies of their implementation in India and Nepal. Recommended for graduate students.

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Latin America and Caribbean

Adams 2010 surveys the contemporary impact of UN environmental programs in Latin America, while Deere and Royce 2009 analyzes the environmental and political dimensions of grassroots movements across the region. London and Kelly 2007 sketches a vivid ground-level portrait of current trends in the Amazon, while Romero Díaz and West 2005 catalogues the full range of environmental issues across Latin America and the island nations of the Caribbean.

  • Adams, Francis. The United Nations in Latin America: Aiding Development. New York: Routledge, 2010.

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    Recent survey of individual UN agencies and their relative effectiveness in Latin America. Features a chapter dedicated to sustainable development and ecological issues with special focus on the work of the United Nations Environmental Program. Recommended for graduate students.

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  • Deere, Carmen Diana, and Frederick S. Royce. eds. Rural Social Movements in Latin America: Organizing for Sustainable Livelihoods. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009.

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    These essays feature case studies of social movements for indigenous rights, women’s rights, land reform, and sustainability in such places as Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico. Excellent source on broader context of environmental justice movement. Recommended for upper-division or graduate seminars.

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  • London, Mark, and Brian Kelly. The Last Forest: The Amazon in the Age of Globalization. New York: Random House, 2007.

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    Vivid look at the transformation of the Amazon by logging, ranching, and resource extraction. While holding out hope that much of the Amazon can still be saved, the authors argue that “saving the Amazon now requires saving the people who live in the Amazon.” Recommended for undergraduate or graduate students.

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  • Romero Díaz, Aldemaro, and Sarah West, eds. Environmental Issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. New York: Springer, 2005.

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    These essays survey environmental issues throughout the region, with more emphasis on domestic trends and policies within each country and less emphasis on the role of international organizations. May be purchased as book or electronic text. Recommended for upper division and graduate students.

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Middle East

Yergin 1992 is an excellent introduction to the unique position of the Middle East in the age of petroleum, while Simmons 2005 sounds a provocative warning about the future of oil reserves in the region. Amery and Wolf 2000 explores the shared use of water resources in the Jordan River basin and a possible instrument for political reconciliation in the region, while Allan 2002 takes a broader view of the politics of water across the Middle East and North Africa. Assessing the prospects for a sustainable future beyond the era of peak oil, Schuler 2009 analyzes the urban planning for Masdar, a carbon-neutral city under construction in the Gulf state of Abu Dhabi.

  • Allan, Tony. The Middle East Water Question: Hydropolitics and the Global Economy. London: I. B. Tauris, 2002.

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    A thorough and engaging introduction to the social, political and economic issues connected to water in the Middle East and North Africa. Clarifies the jargon of “hydropolitics,” explores a variety perspectives across the region, and surveys prospects for future development. Recommended for upper-division and graduate students.

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  • Amery, Hussein A., and Aaron Wolf, eds. Water in the Middle East: A Geography of Peace. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000.

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    Engaging essays on the use of water resources in the Jordan River basin by Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria. A combination of scholarship and advocacy, these essays explore the connection between peace negotiations and cooperation on the wise use of water resources. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students.

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  • Schuler, Matthias. “Masdar City Master Plan: The Design and Engineering Strategies.” In 100% Renewable: Energy Autonomy in Action. Edited by Peter Droege, 243–250. London: Earthscan, 2009.

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    Profiles engineering challenges for Masdar, the proposed carbon-neutral city in the Gulf state of Abu Dhabi. Hailing Masdar as the keystone of a post–fossil-fuel future for the region, Schuler explores the specific policies and innovations implicit in its design. Recommended for graduate students.

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  • Simmons, Matthew. Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2005.

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    An investment banker with years of experience in the oil industry, Simmons presents a detailed assessment of Saudi oil and natural gas reserves and argues that they will be outstripped by global demand sooner than the official assessments of the Saudi government suggest. Provocative book on resource policy. Recommended for graduate seminars.

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  • Yergin, Daniel. The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power. New York: Free Press, 1992.

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    Frequently reprinted and translated, this remains the best, most informative, and most engaging introduction to the history, politics, and even the culture of oil. Although a global history, it features an excellent narrative of oil development in the Middle East from the early 20th century through the 1991 Gulf War. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students.

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North America

Surveying the long heritage of environmental law in the United States, Nagle 2010 presents a ground-level analysis of its practical consequences in a series of diverse American landscapes. Punter 2003 highlights the remarkable success of Vancouver in sustainable urban planning, while Fitzgerald 2010 surveys the prospects for combining viable economic growth with ecological sustainability in a diverse cross section of US cities. McKibben 2008 advocates a stronger emphasis on shortening supply chains with locally generated power and locally grown food, while Hewitt 2010 explores how the growing fascination with local food helped to save the economy of a struggling Vermont community.

  • Fitzgerald, Joan. Emerald Cities: Urban Sustainability and Economic Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    Superb exploration of what works and what doesn’t in contemporary American cities. Examines sustainability policies, public transit, and green jobs in a broad selection of cities, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and Portland, Oregon. Elegantly written and very informative. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate courses.

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  • Hewitt, Ben. The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food. New York: Rodale, 2010.

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    Portrays how the economy in the author’s rural hometown in Vermont was revitalized by the local food or “locavore” movement. Addresses themes of diet, sustainable agriculture, and the economic challenges facing the rural communities across North America. Recommended for undergraduate or graduate students.

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  • Nagle, John Copeland. Law’s Environment: How Law Shapes the Places We Live. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.

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    Nagle assess the consequence of US environmental law by surveying such landscapes as Alaska’s Adak Island, the Susquehanna River, southern California’s Inland Empire, and the Badlands of North Dakota. Raises questions about the adequacy of legislation and litigation in the protection of land and habitats. Recommended for graduate students.

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  • McKibben, Bill. Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. New York: Henry Holt, 2008.

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    Seminal writer on climate change argues that “more” and “better” have become mutually exclusive values. Advises shifting away from suburbs to multifamily housing units, from large power grids to locally generated power, and from supermarkets with long supply chains to locally grown food. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students.

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  • Punter, John. The Vancouver Achievement: Urban Planning and Design. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2003.

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    Vancouver has been hailed by advocates of sustainable development around the world for its emphasis on energy efficiency, designed urban density, and hospitable public space. This illustrated volume provides a detailed portrait of the city along with considerable historical context. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students.

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Russia and the Former Soviet Bloc

In surveying the long history of the Russian power, Weiner 2009 discusses abiding predatory traditions in Russian political culture and suggests that they bode ill for the environmental future of the region. Oldfield 2005 traces the steady evolution of environmental activism in post-Soviet Russia, while Agyeman and Ogneva-Himmelberger 2009 surveys the environmental justice movement that has emerged in the past two decades on the periphery of the old Soviet bloc. Auer 2005 explores the troublesome challenges of environmental restoration in eastern Europe and the former USSR, while Kobari, et al. 1998 highlights the continuity between water crises in Central Asia and in the Middle East.

  • Agyeman, Julian, and Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger, eds. Environmental Justice and Sustainability in the Former Soviet Union (Urban and Industrial Environments). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.

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    These essays consider a broad range of environmental issues across the former Soviet bloc, including the struggles of indigenous peoples in the Russian Far East, the extraction of oil wealth in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, and role of civil society in the Estonian environmental movement. Recommended for upper-division and graduate students.

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  • Auer, Matthew R., ed. Restoring Cursed Earth: Appraising Environmental Policy Reforms in Eastern Europe and Russia. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005.

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    These detailed case studies and policy essays explore the vexing challenge of cleaning up the environmental disasters left by state-run enterprises, even as post-Soviet economic growth in the former USSR and eastern Europe creates new challenges to sustainability. Recommended for graduate students.

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  • Kobori, Iwao, and Michael H. Glantz, eds. Central Eurasian Water Crisis: Caspian, Aral, and Dead Seas. Tokyo: United Nations University Press, 1998.

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    Analyzes the environmental problems surrounding the Dead Sea within the context of Middle Eastern conflicts; reviews the Soviet-era policies that desiccated the Aral Sea and then considers the Caspian Sea in light of the ongoing drive to tap the enormous fossil fuel resources in the region. Recommended for graduate students.

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  • Oldfield, Jonathan. Russian Nature: Exploring the Environmental Consequences of Societal Change. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2005.

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    Presents a rich and nuanced look at environmental issues and activism in post-Soviet Russia. Assesses legacy of Soviet policies, as well as the impact of economic growth since the 1990s. Outlines the evolution of government policies under Yeltsin and Putin. Recommended for upper-division and graduate students.

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  • Weiner, Douglas R. “The Predatory Tribute-Taking State: A Framework for Understanding Russian Environmental History.” In The Environment and World History. Edited by Kenneth Pomeranz and Edmund Burke III, 276–315. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

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    Weiner argues here that a predatory approach to the neighboring polities and to the environment has dominated Russian political culture since the aftermath of the Mongol invasions and continues to influence Russian policy today. A provocative but well-cited piece that is sure to generate debate. Recommended for graduate seminars.

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Global Studies

Sachs 2008 argues for globalization of environmental protection in a process of reform larger in scale but similar in kind to the American New Deal. Taking a more radical tack, Speth 2008 contends that our economic values must be transformed if the world is to avoid ecological disaster. Easterly 2007 rejects global aid programs, stressing instead the efficacy of small scale projects and private investment. Yunus 2007 describes the success of the author’s microcredit programs in Bangladesh and other nations. Brand 2009 urges readers to join the author in embracing such “environmental heresies” as supporting nuclear power and genetically engineered crops in response to climate change. Strange and Bayely 2008 presents an introduction to the sustainable development policies of the OECD, while the UN Human Settlement Program 2008 seeks to highlight sustainable trends in global urbanization in the early 21st century.

  • Brand, Stewart. Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifest. New York: Viking, 2009.

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    Immensely engaging and provocative book. Begins with a worst-case scenario on climate change and follows through with Whole Earth Catalog founder Brand’s embracing nuclear fission, rapid urbanization, genetically engineered crops, and even geo-engineering. Excellent starting point for debates on sustainable development. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students.

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  • Easterly, William. The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts To Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. New York: Penguin, 2007.

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    Provides an opposing view to the development program advocated by Jeffrey Sachs. Easterly argues that lack of accountability in development programs precludes the possibility of lasting success. Polemical and engaging; a good book for seminars in which multiple perspectives are explored.

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  • Sachs, Jeffrey. Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet. New York: Penguin, 2008.

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    A global survey of ecological problems and possible solutions by one of the most widely consulted advocates of sustainable development in the world. Elegantly written, it is at once sobering and hopeful in its style and substance. Recommended for upper-division and graduate students.

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  • Speth, James Gustave. The Bridge at the End of the World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

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    A veteran environmentalist who cofounded the Natural Resources Defense Council four decades ago, Speth now argues that the pragmatic and incremental approach of mainstream environmentalism is not equal to the present challenges posed by runaway consumerism, mass extinction, and climate change. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students.

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  • Strange, Tracy, and Anne Bayely. Sustainable Development: Linking Economy, Society, Environment. OECD Insights. Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2008.

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    A compact and graceful introduction to the broad history and current state of sustainable development. Uses vivid accounts of case studies to illustrate major themes with a minimum of jargon. A handy textbook for undergraduates that also provides a window into the evolution and current state of OECD policy.

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  • United Nations Human Settlements Program. State of the World’s Cities 2008–2009: Harmonious Cities. London: Earthscan, 2008.

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    Explores the transition of Earth to an “urban planet” with more than half the human species now living in cities. Surveys those urban spaces around the world that UN-HABITAT classes as “harmonious cities” with a higher quotient of equity and sustainability. Nicely produced. Good introductory textbook on urbanization.

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  • Yunus, Muhammad, with Karl Weber. A World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism. New York: Public Affairs, 2007.

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    Economics professor and Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus here elaborates the concept of micro-loans to low-income families and businesses that have been ignored by traditional banks. Yunus pioneered micro-lending at Grameen Bank in his native Bangaldesh and argues that the movement has helped to lift more than 100 million people out of poverty.

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Climate Change

DiMento and Doughman 2007 is a handy introduction to basic facts about anthropogenic climate change, while Weart 2008 is a brilliant and indispensible history of climate science for the past two centuries. Nordhaus and Shellenberger 2007 argues that climate change requires an Apollo-style program to render fossil fuels obsolete, while Lomborg 2008 claims the problem is not severe enough to justify a serious reduction in fossil fuel consumption. MacKay 2009 catalogs the extensive alternatives to our current dependence on fossil fuels, weighing the viability of each. Oreskes and Conway 2010 sheds a bright light on the current debate by documenting the connections between the coal and oil industries and efforts to deny the empirical evidence tying carbon emissions to climate change.

  • DiMento, Joseph F. C., and Pamela Doughman, eds. Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007.

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    This collection of essays introduces readers to the issue of anthropogenic climate change and addresses the current science and public debate on what to do about it, especially in the United States. An accessible primer for undergraduate courses.

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  • Lomborg, Bjorn. Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming. New York: Vintage, 2008.

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    Lomborg marshals his background in game theory to assess the science and politics of climate change. He does not deny the reality of anthropogenic climate change, but rejects calls to reduce fossil fuel use as too expensive in the near term. Written for a lay audience. Valuable as a primary source.

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  • MacKay, David J. C. Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air. Cambridge, UK: UIT Cambridge, 2009.

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    A Cambridge University physics professor presents an irreverent, provocative, and highly detailed survey of sustainable energy options in the face of climate change. Illustrated with extensive charts and graphs. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate students.

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  • Nordhaus, Ted, and Michael Shellenberger. Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007.

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    Dubbed “the bad boys of environmentalism” for their 2004 essay “The Death of Environmentalism,” Nordhaus and Shellenberger argue that climate change is so severe that the old paradigm of pollution control no longer works. Authors advocate programs to develop technologies that will move us past the era of fossil fuels.

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  • Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. London: Bloomsbury, 2010.

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    Historians of science Oreskes and Conway document the history of trained scientists with financial ties to vested interests distorting public debate on such issues as DDT, tobacco smoke, and climate change. Presents a clear and sober analysis of the current debate over climate change. Recommended for graduate and undergraduate students.

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  • Weart, Spencer. The Discovery of Global Warming. Rev. ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

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    First-rate introduction and reference work on the history of climate science and global warming that spans more than a century. A lucid combination of science and history. Recommended for undergraduate and graduate courses. Companion website hosted by the American Institute of Physics.

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LAST MODIFIED: 03/02/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199743292-0011

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